Monday, November 14, 2016

Election Reflections – Part 2 – What Hillary Clinton’s Loss Means to Me

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Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election. She failed in her chance to make history as the first woman to become President of the United States, but the reasons why sound like nothing more than excuses.

Hillary did not clinch the nomination because she is a woman. She’s strong. She’s independent. She definitely has her issues, but compared to Donald Trump, she should have been our next president. She is the better qualified of the two, and yet she was defeated by the likes of Donald Trump.

The race should not have even been close with the type of campaign that Trump ran. But her brand of womaness was ultimately her undoing. This begin to sink in for me on Election Day as I quietly listened to men around me speak. There was the “conscious Black man” from my dance class who said he was going to vote for Trump because he was anti establishment. Trump is a rich white man, how is he considered an outsider? There were the men in Whole Foods talking about voting for Trump. I was confused. They were Black men, too. Surely they had been hearing and seeing the same things I had. Even if it was a man thing, they were still Black and they had mothers, wives, sisters and daughters.

Then the day after the election, I was having a conversation with my 8th graders, and I was surprised at how many of my boys supported Trump. My students are African American and Latino. They said Trump said what he needed to say to get elected. They said they didn’t understand why immigrants just didn’t come into the country legally. They said the world would not respect a woman president. And there it was: the real reason why Hillary was not elected. It was that v-shaped space between her legs.

At first, I tried to remain neutral, but I had to speak. My girls  were afraid of a Trump presidency, but wouldn’t voice their fears. They acquiesced to the boys in the room. My class is only an hour, and we didn’t really get into the conversation, but I have spent the last few days mulling over what I’ve heard. And I came away with two things: I’m going into my classroom with an assignment to give my students better insight into what the election means for marginalized people. And I also came to understand what the results of this election might mean for me on a personal level.

I am a single woman. Like Hillary, I am strong and independent. I am not currently dating, but I was hopeful that I might meet a man of my liking. Now, I’m not so sure. I’ve never married, and I don’t have children, so I have always had to take care of myself. I’m strong because I have to be. I’m independent because I have to be. But I’ve come to realize that these might not be desirable characteristics to a man. Many of them are still looking for damsels in distress to rescue. I’m middle aged. I stopped looking for Prince Charming a long time ago. 

I’m looking for a partner. I need a man who respects my strength and my independence. I need a man who understands that my strength and my independence don’t mean that I don’t need him; I do. I need a man who’ll be there for me; who’ll allow me to lean on him when I need to. But in the meantime, I still have to take care of me.

So, Hillary might not be our next president. She still has a chance if the electoral college delegates decide to listen to the voice of the people.  And just maybe I still have a chance to meet a man who is right for me. This election was quite eye opening, and I'm still learning as I go. Let's see what the end result is for the strong, independent women.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Election Reflections – Part 1: Thoughts from a Black Woman in the Trump Age

It’s Tuesday night of Election Day 2016. America is voting for its next President. I’m antsy. Do I really think the American people will vote for Donald Trump? I do. In the back of my mind, I think it’s possible. But I push it way down in my subconscious. I try to bury it, but I know it’s there.

 I have an application to complete, so I don’t bother to watch the returns, but my nieces are texting back and forth like crazy. So, I turn on the TV. It’s not looking good for Hillary. I talk to a friend on the phone for over an hour before deciding to go to bed. I’ll find out in the morning. Maybe she can do what the Cubs did and bring home a victory in the 11th hour.

I wake up at 5:00 am. I check my phone. Donald Trump is the president-elect. I think to myself, This is not real. I must be asleep. The American citizens did not vote this man in as leader of the free world. It’s a late work day. I don’t have to be there until 11:30. I try to go back to sleep, but sleep evades me. I don’t know what this means. I don’t know what it says about the country I live in.
I call my mother. She doesn’t answer. She lives in the apartment upstairs from me, so I take my keys and left myself in. She is tiptoeing from the kitchen carrying a bowl of cottage cheese and peaches. Pooch, the dog my nephew left behind is by her side.

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“You know Trump won,” I say.

“Yea, I been up all night. I ain’t been to sleep yet.”

“What we gone do?”

“I don’t know,” says the woman who always has an answer. My mother is an elder, and she is one of the wisest women I know. She has lived through some stuff. Surely she can give me some direction and guidance. 

She sits on the bed. I sit next to her. Neither of us has answers, but I have my mother, and she has me.  We are each others’ comfort in this storm that is raging. The sun is not up and she has already spoken to two of my siblings. Family is where we seek refuge. My brother (who rarely texts) sends a group text about the future of uncertainty. My sister (who rarely texts) sends a Bible scripture to help us make sense of what doesn’t make sense. We are all stunned. But we know we have each other. And we know that though this battle may be hard, it is not impossible. 

I take Pooch out. It’s still dark. I stand on the porch. And nothing is changed—on the surface. But it feels like everything has changed. The silence of the early morning leaves me alone with my thoughts. I was never afraid of Trump, but of his supporters. I knew that he could not be a hate monger by himself. That fear is now my reality. There is a strong aversion to “Other” in this country, and in some ways I am that Other. I am a Black woman, and for the first time in my life I am afraid—really scared about what going’s to happen next. 

I’m hoping and praying that over time, these feelings subside. But for now I will sit with them and learn from them, but I will not be consumed by them. I have always loved the activism of the 1960s and believed that I grew up in the wrong decade. I wanted to be an activist. Be careful what you wish for; it just might come true. Perhaps the election of Donald Trump is the call to action that so many of us need to truly Make America Great once and for all. But for that to happen, we have work to do. So much work to do. I’m ready to work? Are you?